Throwback: Leaving the Church

​I first started blogging in 2011 and I had a blog with blogger.com. Some of the posts have been re-hashed and added to this one but I thought I’d share some of my old posts with you in their original form so you can see how my thoughts and writing has changed over time. Enjoy! Feedback welcome!

     I’ve been thinking a bit about people leaving the Church. Lots of Christians seem to get to a point in their lives where they start jumping between churches without really committing anywhere or they abandon the idea of being part of a local church altogether. Some try to maintain their relationship with God alone (which tends to lead to mixes of different religous theologies and philosophies) while others “lose faith” or walk away from Him because of their experiences.

     While I was at university there was a lot of talk and activity based around finding the right church. This has created some issues for me in my thinking so I’m going to try not to sound ranty because that’s not my heart.


     During a conversation with a friend who said he was a Christian but wasn’t part of a church an interesting thought occurred to me. He said that he and his wife had left a church because the people were too judgemental and had then stopped being a part of any church. As carefully as I could I asked him if he had thought about the fact that referring to people as being “too judgemental” was in fact a judgement in itself. They’d left the church because they had judged the people and decided they were too judgemental. Mental! The feeling of being condemned by others is a BIG reason for people leaving the Church. Even people who aren’t part of a church often feel judged and condemned by us! I reckon this is worth looking into…

     It’s really easy to make judgements. I might even go as far as to say it’s human nature. Judgement is something of the nature of God in us. When He created the world, He judged everything and His judgement was “It’s good.” When He made us He said we were “Very good.” Take a moment to feel warm and tingly inside…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 🙂

In the Church however we seem to allow our judgement to spill over into condemnation at times. People feel our glares when news/gossip surfaces that they’ve done something wrong or they haven’t been seen around for a while. Think about this, when God declared Adam and Eve to be “Very good”, He knew what they were going to do! He knew they were going to mess up big time. I reckon we need to recapture our ability to look beyond people’s faults and mistakes before, during and after they’ve made them so that we can see the image of God in them and declare them to be “VERY GOOD!!” 

     I think a lot of Christians place a lot of emphasis on verses such as Luke 6:37 and Matt 7:3 where Jesus warns us about focussing on our own sin and not judging other people (Please get your teeth into Romans 14, it’s amazing!) I think that it’s great to understand that we’re not to judge one another but it’s also important to remember that Jesus is present whenever the Church gathers and His holiness may reflect on sin in our lives and so I think it’s important to ask ourselves if we’re feeling condemned by people or convicted by the Holy Spirit. James 5:20 tells us we can cover a lot of damage by helping to bring people to repentance but this doesn’t work without real, genuine and obvious love. God rebukes and disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12) and so I think it’s right that we do the same. In the Church people should feel loved and accepted even while they struggle to walk out their faith.

     Everybody has issues that they are working through in one way or another. Some choose to hide their issues and slap on the “Sunday Smile” (expect a blog on that sometime!!) even during the week and pretend as though everything is great. We use this face because there is a fear of being judged by others or being seen as unspiritual for having struggles. The fact that we know we’re hiding something changes our perception of the way others are peceiving us. We can become paranoid and defensive or we can become jealous of the “perfect people”.

     One of the leaders in our church spoke a while ago about reminding ourselves of the individual journey we’ve been on with Jesus and how our relationship has grown with Him. Doing this rekindles passion in us as we go over fond memories and see how far we’ve come! (seriously try it!!) I think that it also births compassion in us because we realise that we in no way have it all together and we never have! Remembering this can really help us to be gracious.

     Often people leave the Church with a warped view of God because of what they’ve experienced of His people. We commonly pray things like “God let people see you through us” but the implications of that can be a little scary if we don’t act like Him.

Holy Spirit please teach us how to live from the new heart you’ve given us that us full of grace, love and compassion instead of condemnation. Help us remember that it’s You who brings conviction and that it’s Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Help us Jesus to mirror you so that we can truly say to people as You did “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Amen


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